Strange the Dreamer

28449207Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

2 stars

“And anyway, she asked herself, what real risk was there? It’s just a dream, she answered, though of course it was so much more.” 

Strange the Dreamer is the story of Lazlo Strange, a decided dreamer. What does he dream of? The mythical lost city of Weep. Despite the lack of interest in Weep that his colleagues has, Lazlo is assiduous in his studies and finds himself an opportunity of sorts to travel to the city, literally, of his dreams. He along with a band of variety of specialists find themselves on a expedition to find out what happened to the city 200 years prior when it lost communication with the rest of the world, and most importantly what has been haunting the city since. Through the journey Lazlo experiences more life than he had ever read of in his books.

The Story-The one word I think of is oxymoron. This book was so enchanting but at the same time sluggish and boring. There was beautiful prose and imagery, but it only amplified the buildup of the story. While I am happy I didn’t DNF the book, I doubt I will be picking up the next installment, unless I don’t have anything better to read. The part that really made me just so mad in this book was didn’t even happen until 70% At that point, I had to decide if I was too far invested to give up, which clearly I didn’t.

All I can say is, the ending only just barely makes up for that curve ball. If you can suffer the few chapters there is quite an exciting finish, that may or may not be expected. Thinking back on it, it really is the only way to end the story (minus my complaint that will come later in the spoiler at the end of this review).

The World Building– What makes this underdog story unique is the pitch that Laini Taylor gives it in. Here we have this whimsical city that would make a 5 year old Lazlo gallivant in an orchard pretending to be warrior from, risking a beating from the monks that took him in. The world that Lazlo comes from is drab in comparison to his dreams, and it is because he is a dreamer that we get the opportunity to have such a vivid world.

The Characters
Lazlo-Obviously he is what really drives this story. Without Lazlo’s idiosyncratic imagination, we would have nightmares. It’s his candor personality that makes him so lovable. The way he covets weep, shows respect to it, and does his best to understand it helps us empathize with the people of Weep when we discover what has been going on.

Sarai– It’s Sarai’s contriteness that diverts our predilection against the haunting of Weep. She is unintentionally ostracized from her companions due to how she was raised and what was expected of her.

Now there were definitely some characters that got some extra sections that were unnecessary, as well as some that should have received a little bit more love. I think it is largely due to the long winded world building and the curve ball chapters. But who knows, maybe the next installment in the series will focus in on their story, their struggles, and what their dreams may be…even if they are broken.

*****Spoiler time******
The insta-love was just a shock to my system. Here I was engrossed in this underdog story with a beautiful world building, and then BLAM! a chapter on two lonely characters learning to kiss. I don’t mean like a quick paragraph of *smooch smooch* that feels great!. I mean this part of the book was written just like the rest of the book was, achingly beautiful but long winded.

I totally understand that they were lonely, and they had this connection that is dreams and the beauty in it. But what the what?? Their love was rushed while everything else in the book took time. Now while I thought that it was necessary for the Goddess of Nightmares to have a connection with Strange the Dreamer, they could have had a bond of friendship, a true camaraderie, or heck even just a slow simmering romance.


*****End Spoiler*****

Don’t remember who wanted book playlists, but here, at least, is my theme song for this book The Dear Hunter – The Kiss of Life. I thought of this song as I was reading throughout the entire book, and I actually do find it quite fitting. Also, it’s from one of my favorite bands. ❤

-Scrill

A Darker Shade of Magic

22055262A Darker shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab (Victoria Schwab)

4 stars

“I’d rather die on an adventure than live standing still.”

Schwab has this way of presenting a story where you aren’t really rooting for the typical good guys. In A Darker Shade of Magic we are introduced to multiple Londons.

Grey London-what we would be familiar with, magic free (no Harry Potter’s here, sorry), where one of our main charater’s, Lila, hails from
Red London-a flourishing magical city with a red river, where our other main character, Kell, hails from
White London-another magical London that is essentially fading
Black London-well, let’s not talk about that place, because nothing good comes from Black London

These Londons sort of…overlap…so to speak. People used to be able to go from one London to another, but now only Antari (like Kell) can make their way with their magic to cross between through doors they can conjure with blood. While Kell is on a special mission he somehow gets into some trouble, bumps into Lila, and shit pretty much hits the fan.

The World Building-I loved the idea of these overlapping Londons. My favorite part about the Londons were their different levels of magic, and that even though they are all called London, they are nothing alike…except that one spot where there seems to always be a bar/tavern no matter which London you are in. There are different languages and even a limit to the magic that everyone has. Even when it comes to elemental magic there is a variety to it. There aren’t a bunch of people just moving water, fire, and other elements around with their magic. It just isn’t that simple.

The Story-The only reason why I didn’t give this book 5 full stars was because it honestly took me a little bit to really get invested into the story. It took me a good 25% before I was really sure I was going to keep going, because honestly, before that I probably easily could have set it aside and left it to back burn for a while. Fortunately I had enough people pestering encouraging me to read the book that I kept going. Thank the Lord for that. Once you start to really understand all the London stuff and have all the characters established is when the fun starts. It’s original and exciting, and you never know what kind of sticky situation Kell & Lila are going to have to get their way out of.

You know what else? We have a handsome young man and fierce young woman for our main characters. You know what they don’t do throughout the entire book? Swooning for each other. It is so refreshing to read a fantasy story that was primarily driven by romance. Don’t get me wrong, I love those books too. It’s just….refreshing.

The Characters-Let’s be real. It’s the characters that really make this book. I love the idea of the magic & world, but without Kell & Lila, the story would be boring. I love Lila, she really is such a hoot. She’s the type of girl that may fail or make a mess out of things, but doesn’t back down from a fight. She stands up for what she believes in and fights for those that are weaker than their enemies. She seeks adventure and is willing to drop everything familiar and safe to get it. I felt like Kell was so lonely, even with having a family and all his needs met. I don’t think he truly realizes it until he meets Lila and realizes what he is missing.

Now I am eager to read the next book, and ready to spend just a little more time with the fantastic Delilah Bard.

-Scrill

Roar

Roar (Stormheart, #1)Roar by Cora Carmack

5 stars

“You are lightning made flesh. Colder than falling snow. Unstoppable as the desert sands.”

Roar is the gripping tale about Princess Aurora who lives in a land that is ravaged by magical storms. Stormlings like her family, inherit the power to tame and control the storms and it is their duty to protect their kingdom. Except Aurora does not have any affinity with the storms. In an attempt to still protect the kingdom without any magical skill, she is arranged to marry the son of a neighboring kingdom. It is only days before her wedding that Roar begins to realize there is much more the magical storms than she was led to believe.

**Okay before I really dive into the review, can we just appreciate how GORGEOUS this cover is?? I must find out who did this art!!**

The Story-Okay, so maybe not the most original story. Princess has an arranged marriage only for her whole world to change causing a chain of reactions that sends her on an adventure of self discovery. It was the pitch that really did me in. We have had so many elemental books recently where people come across gifts to fight one another. But what if it wasn’t another race or people that you were fighting against, but the world itself? This book hooked me from the start. It was both beautiful and exciting from start to finish. In fact, I don’t recall a dull moment at all. Roar had a vast magical world, feisty characters and plenty of action and romance to drive the story to the very last page.

The World Building– Ok, really magical storms? The world building was so fantastic! The cover is only a small example of how descriptive Cora Carmack writes without droning on and on. The world building slid in seamlessly as the story progressed so you weren’t bogged down by just history or just luscious scenery. The concepts that she introduces were incredibly original. I loved the idea of stealing a storm’s heart and while having said heart it helps you control similar storms. I loved that there are brave souls and that chase and hunt down storms. Everything about the story helps promote vivid imagery that keeps the mind entertained.

The Characters-Aurora is such a great main character. She is spirited, brave, determined but still with fault. She isn’t this magnificent princess that she portrays, but she is willing to fight for the strength that she needs. I loved that she can be naïve but she learns as she goes and doesn’t back down to uncertainty. No one can blame her for keeping her real identity and skills secret because it would cause chaos, therefore causing her to suffer alone without any sort of reprieve.

Locke is not your typical “hero”. He isn’t some brave prince swooping in to save the day. He definitely creates an interesting dynamic as he has to battle his will against the princess’ determined spirit. She won’t back down, and Locke is forced to match her determination.

I love that though everyone may be slightly attracted to each other, there isn’t any instalove or ridiculous romance. Each character has a temperament that adds to the story.

Overall– this was one of my most anticipated books, and I was incredibly happy that it came in my June FairyLoot box. It was love at first sight from just the cover, and it didn’t fail to follow through with any of my expectations. In fact, it both met and exceeded them. It is definitely one of my favorite reads for 2017, and I cannot wait until the next book comes out.

-Scrill

The Hundredth Queen

The Hundredth Queen by Emily R. King


No star rating due to DNF


ARC received from Netgalley for fair review


Publish date: June 1, 2017

*yes, I know I am a little late*



I. JUST. CAN’T. I hate DNFing an ARC, but no thanks. 

My overall reaction:

I gave this a solid shot, and by 73% I am baffled by the lack of romantic development, despite there being a huge romantic element. I get instant attraction, but really? instant attraction to the first man you’ve seen, and despite the ramifications of possible DEATH you risk your life and their’s for someone you hardly know? 

You also hate someone for something you have been groomed for for your entire life? I mean, I get the girls wanting some kind of personal freedom. But honestly, having had only known one kind of life..you think that they would have been a little bit more accepting and honored on how their life is leading.

I’m sorry I just feel like the romance is hurried and there for has ruined the book. I like the idea of this magical element that can essentially destroy you if it’s not properly honed. I also loved that even though said magical element is news to our character, that she’s not just like magically all powerful and bad ass. The problem for me is, I hope they get caught and are killed even if the benefactor is a little gross, and I don’t think you’re supposed to feel about the main character like that.

-Scrill

Traitor to the Throne

Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton 


4 Stars


“Ahmed would tell me that an eye for an eye would make the whole world blind. Shazad would tell me that was why you had to stab people through both eyes the first time around.” 

Well that was well done and a stellar sequel. I don’t even have a good excuse as to why it took me so long to finish, because it was exciting from start to finish.

TTTT picks up pretty much where RotS leaves off and our Blue Eyed Bandit just can’t seem to stay out of trouble, even with the help from her friends. Throughout this book you are forced to reconsider who are your allies and who are your enemies and whether or not you can draw a clear line between the two. Amani winds up at the palace and is determined to not let her position go to waste, but while she is there she faces more challenges than she expected and her faith in the rebellion might be wavering. 

The Story-this book had so many twists that there was never really a moment that you could stop and rest easy. Amani suffers a great deal in this book and somehow survives through it all. Her heart and determination is the only thing keeping her going. My heart broke for her so many times, and trust me when I say that it didn’t even have anything to do with her love for Jin. if you’re looking for more romance between her and Jin, then just be warned that it is not a primary aspect of the story.

The Characters-We already met most of our rebels, but what I found interesting was seeing the other characters developed much more in this book, especially the sultan. His ideals and aims are much more different than what is expected, and the things he does to keep his rule barely intact is astounding. The man is definitely someone to fear. Again, the real question Amani has to face is who to place her trust in.

The World Building-The history of the Djinni is elaborated a lot more in this book. The magical elements are somewhat minimal, in fact for a majority of the book there aren’t many grand gestures of magic. 

One of my biggest problems with the book was the cover. For one very simple reason. Why is Amani (I am assuming that’s who it is) holding a bow and arrow when she is a gun sharp shooter? She uses a bow once…when she is trying to shoot a duck and it is such a tiny moment that it seems ridiculous to somewhat feature her with a bow on. the. cover!

-Scrill

Fire

Fire by Kristin Cashore


3 Stars


It took me two tries to finish this book, and I am actually really glad that I gave it a second shot.

Fire is the sequel to, but not not about the same characters. Instead of just being graced with a special skill, there are monster creatures in the Dells. Monster cats, monster bugs, and even monster humans. The monster element makes each creature more than it’s original. In Fire’s case, she is more beautiful and enrapturing. She can control people who are unguarded with her mind, speak to them in their heads, understand their feelings, and more. The entire story is basically wrapped around the fact that her father was in fact a true monster in spirit and she does not want to use her powers in the same evil manner that he does. Circumstances change, and her skills are needed by the king, thus thrusting her into a life that she did not expect to step into, let alone like.

The Story-It is a little slow. It held a steady pace of not much happening, even when people were being shot at by arrows. I luckily was just listening to an audiobook on 1.5x speed so I was able to get through it rather quickly, I am not sure I would have gotten through with just reading the book. I think the strength in the story was mostly in the diverse characters and beautiful world building.

The World Building-I love the idea of beautiful monster creatures and even how they are extra attracted towards Fire and are more inclined to eat her just as she in inclined to eat them. The sprawling kingdom of the Dells and the conflict that was slowly building gave depth to the story of these monster creatures. The background history is interwoven well and not dumped all at once. I am assuming this is actually a prequel to before King Leck came to weasel his throne, so as a timeline with the second book, it is a little backwards.

The Characters-The complex characters were by far the best part. I loved Fire and her independence and strength, but still seeing that she wasn’t some all powerful creature. She needed help from time to time. Especially, apparently when she got her period. I have never read any book that wrote so much about a girl’s period. WTF. It didn’t even add any significant value to the story at all beside a few brief awkward encounters/conversations. Every time she had to have extra guards because she was on her period and the creatures smelled her easier just made me think of the jumbo tampon scene in Mean Girls:

Anyway, the rest of the characters were well developed and added to the issues that Fire had to face. And like the first book, Cashore writes about a society where a woman can have a baby out of wedlock without shame and still being able to live independently.

-Scrill

NYXIA

Nyxia by Scott Reintgen

ARC from Netgalley for an honest review

Publish Date: September 12, 2017

5 Stars


“Babel might have all the keys, but they don’t know what they’re keeping in the cage.” 

 

Before I get into this review, let me just say that I never read Ender’s Game, but I think I watched the flop-ish of a movie. Now while I found a few things that I didn’t particularly love about the book, it wasn’t anything that I fully disliked, they were just aspects that I just shrugged off.

Nyxia is a futuristic story about this guy named Emmett that gets recruited by a company called Babel into this space quest to a distant planet called Eden to mine for a substance called Nyxia. 9 other teens are also recruited on this mission as well. Turns out only 8 of them get to go and they must battle it out for the chance to make a lot of money and go to Eden.

The Story-What I liked most about Nyxia was that it wasn’t just about the challenges that the characters have to go through. Yes, a majority of the book is stock full of vivid accounts of the challenges, however, there is this underlying creepiness that Babel has form all the secrecy. First of all-Babel? I mean, in the Bible the story surrounding Babel is about how all the descendants of Noah started to overreach and build a tower to get to Heaven & God-at which point God was like, oh heck no let me scatter you and make you unable to understand each other. So that, and all the other biblical references in the beginning really set it up for the company to not be trustworthy. Do we ever find anything out? Not really, the men in charge openly admit that they aren’t just one wizard behind one curtain, there are many wizards behind many curtains. Quotes like this:

“But a quick glance shows that not all the kids around the table can see the writing on the wall. Translation: Walking away isn’t an option.”

just really set up the book to have a lot of twists and turns in the story, and boy are there a lot of twists and turns. (BTW, in case you don’t know “writing on the wall” is another biblical reference). Anyway, as soon as you start to think the book might plateau, BAM twist and then BAM turn. Literally, at 97% of the book another twist is thrown in.

The World Building-Let’s be real. They were on a spaceship, there wasn’t much world building. What little there was was in creation of Eden & the elements that go with it. The Adamites, the nyxia, the history behind previous travels was where any world building was. Here is one of the few things that bothered me comes in, but still was able to shrug it off. Here we are in the near distant future, Google apparently has been eaten up by this company Babel, but we are wearing these full masks for translating? There is already an ear budthat you can get that translates like 5 different languages from Waverly Labs and I would have expected a little more advancement than what was depicted in the story. 

I loved the complexity of nyxia and what it was capable of, and I can’t wait to read the next installment so that I can learn more about what it really is, what’s Babel up to, and what has really happened down on Eden. I really hope Reintgen really spends a little more time on the background than the day to day in the next book.

The Characters-Oh my little children. I wanted to scoop each of these kids up and hug them till their worries went away. Firstly, people can stop complaining, because, drum roll please, we have a narrator that is a POC. Emmett is a kid from a hoodrat neighborhood in Detroit. What I love about him is that he doesn’t let it define him. It’s where he’s from, but not who he is or where he is going. Aside from Emmett we have a smörgåsbord of ethnicity. Each character had their own history and skill to bring to the table. I really look forward to learn more about each character as their adventure continues on Eden.

The small bit of romance felt rather shallow. With the kids pitted against each other, it was hard to even imagine something romantic sparking, but I did appreciate all the camaraderie that was built. I did find the romance to be a little bit of a reach, because how does one chose one person over the rest of the kids scrambling to go when they really didn’t have much time to get to know each other. Still, they’re kids, they have hormones so and a limited variety of other people so…

Anyway, I loved it. It was exciting from start to finish. I felt connected with the characters and wanted rooted them on.

-Scrill

Rosemarked

Rosemarked by Livia Blackburne

3 stars
Published date: November 7, 2017

ARC received from Netgalley and Disney-Hyperion for an honest review

“And I can’t help but think how easy it is for a thing of this world to be destroyed, and how quickly something beautiful can disappear.”

Rosemarked is told from alternating views and tells the story of a young healer that catches a disease that she cannot cure and a man who has overcome the disease and must go on a mission with the healer to infiltrate the capital city as spies.

The Story-The pacing of this book was slow but steady. There weren’t many climactic points that had me at the edge of my seat, and when there was one, it was somewhat short lived. I had hoped with the espionage and a trained soldier there would have been a little bit more nail-biting time. Regardless, I was still entertained the entire time. The story was not very complicated which gave more time for character development. 

The World Building-I liked the idea of a country that has been ravaged by an empire overtaking it. Either lay down and let them control you and occupy your land or rebel and be slaughtered. Our characters were found from both sides-the healer catching the plague from the men that have occupied her country and a soldier that has history from the empire that haunts him. Since the characters do travel throughout the book I was hoping there would be a little more time spent in some sweeping landscape. I also would have liked to read a little bit more on the culture of the people and what life was like in the country before the invasion maybe. I appreciated the inventiveness of the plague and the stages that go with it.

The Characters-Our two main characters were definitely the most complex things about this book. The fact that Zivah is a healer but has an incurable disease is something that she has to grow and accept. I feel like it helps her transform from her naïve self to someone with a little more purpose with her life. There is something about a person’s impeding death that has them questioning how they will spend their remaining time: Sit in a cottage and slowly dieor use my knowledge for something good, something meaningful.

Dineas on the other hand has a second chance at life and somehow finds himself on a mission back to where he managed to escape from. It was really interesting to see his personality bounce back and forth throughout his mission to the point where he finally becomes whole by the end, accepting all parts of himself. 

Overall, it seemed like a decent start to a series, and I am curious to see how their mission affects their world and how the characters continue to grow. I really hope to see a little more action or suspense in the next installment. There is a lot at risk, and I really want to feel the anxiety that these characters must be feeling.

-Scrill

The Black Witch

25740412The Black Witch by Laurie Frost

5 Stars

“Real education doesn’t make your life easy. It complicates things and makes everything messy and disturbing. But the alternative, Elloren Gardner, is to live your life based on injustice and lies.” 

Okay, so here’s the deal. There are a plethora of long reviews (both bad & good) going over this book. So, I have decided to make this as to the point as possible. Before I start, let me just say one thing. I am incredibly glad that I read the book instead of heeding the reviews imploring people to stop supporting the writer & publisher.

The Story-Elloren Gardner comes a family that is descendant of a famous mage that essentially lead a revolution against the races that were controlling and killing their kind. She is now at the age where she can either be wandfasted (married) or go off to university. Her uncle is steadfast in having her wait to be wandfasted and has her go to university. Throughout the book she has to deal with the pleasures and ramifications of her genial history. The major conflict she must deal with is the prejudice that has been ingrained into her society against every other race.

The World BuildingLaurie Forest did an amazing with the world building. She has taken quite a few of paranormal creatures and molded them into a new world rich with history, violence, and hatred. From elves, werewolves, mages, to some adapted creatures such as Kelts, Urisk, etc. I found it incredibly fascinating to find so many types of races and being who I am, I took a great interest in trying to find out where some origins came from. I question things like are the Kelts supposed to be Celtic? The Elves have several races within the race, such as a Smaragdalfar, a green scaled elf, is that rooted from smaragdnine which basically means emerald in color? Are Icarals rooted from the winged God Icarus? Forest did such a wonderful job integrating all these races and creating history for each of them. She really made it plausible as to why the Gardnerians are SO racist. From the history they are taught, to religious aspects, to even their toys, they are raised to hate everyone and put themselves on pedestals. The fact the Elloren changes at all is a miracle since every other race is pretty much super awful to her. Why would she want to be more accepting of them? 

The Characters-This is the one place that I felt the book lacked, but it wasn’t enough to dock even a half star for me. I mean, I adored Elloren for the most part, but really, is Lukas Grey really worth all the torment she’s getting? I was really proud of reading her transform her opinions, even if it does take almost the entire book for her to drop most of her prejudices. But honestly, she’s 18 years old and her environment is not exactly promoting the change, so lets give her the benefit of the doubt and appreciate the fact that she even does get past how she was raised. Also, could Fallon Bane be any more of Regina George?

I mean I was really expected a little bit more than teen drama when it came to boys…

Anyway, I loved the book, and I can’t wait to read the next installment and see what other secrets we can discover about the world.

-Scrill

Our Dark Duet

Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab

5 stars

 

“How much does a soul weigh? he wondered.
Less than a body.”
 

Okay, so it’s been a few days and I think I have had sufficient amount of time to adjust to life after reading this book. Just a fair warning that I do not even know how to begin reviewing this book, but I will do my best. Let me just start off stating that I listened to the audiobook on this because that was the first version I could get my hands on from the library. I listened to most of it at 1.75x or 2x speed because I could not get through it fast enough to find out what was happening. With that being said, the audiobook version was excellent and Therese Plummer is amazing.

ODD picks up 6 months later with Kate in Prosperity. She’s being her usual bad assness kicking butt, taking names, and slaughtering monsters. Unfortunately, she’s skirting her responsibility in her own city. August is still in Verity and is smothering out the small amount of humanity that he has learned to harbor within himself. Both are haunted by the demons of their past (quite literally) and it takes a new monster that feeds on chaos that brings them together where they both confront each other and said demons. 

The World building
Let’s face it, there really isn’t much word building aside from the monsters in these books. I mean, there really isn’t any need for it. We get it, it’s a city seized by monsters. So where Schwab spends most of her world building is within the cruelty of each monster race and the desperation of the people still residing in the city. It is a newly accepted culture of fight with the FTF or be fodder to the Corsai and Sunai.

The Characters
Let’s start with Kate, just because she is a little easier. The entire first half I was pretty mad at how she could sit in Prosperity trying to pretend she’s not selfishly in a safer city while her home essentially rots from the inside. In the meantime she is trying to make up for it by protecting some other city. Screw those guys. However, I was honestly a little disappointed not to see anymore of her friends from there after she left. Schwab spent a little time introducing them, but we didn’t really get much out of it.

August is just as sweet and tender as the first book. He may not believe it, but he is the more human than the humans. His ability to have empathy about the souls that he is reaping is just mind blowing since the other Sunai don’t seem to grasp it. He is no monster. He is a tiny little kitty, with hidden claws that come out in the form of his violin and bow that slash through the corsair. I just love how conscious he is of all his actions. The moment I most loved about August was when he realizes just how much power he has through his music on people. 

To keep this review spoiler free, let’s just group all the other monsters together. They are creepy AF. I feel like we get a little more of a taste of the Corsai & Sunai, and their mentalities are so twisted. The flesh and torture that they obsess over just might be what helps us put August on such a high pedestal. 

The Story
Guys, this book was flawless. Schwab has created a monster that we love, a damaged girl who is the one person who keeps him human, and a monster so scary I was thankful that I didn’t do the book at night time. This book made me appreciate the nightlight in my room. The way the story plays out really isn’t so much about the war that is going on between the humans and the monsters as much as the war each of our characters has with themselves and what they have to do. We are left wondering, are we who we are based on our actions, or do our souls way more than that? 
Despite how beautiful the book ends it will leave you broken.

-Scrill